Tuesday on Fox News, Elisabeth Hasselbeck did a segment in which she claimed that Obamacare “sticks it” to men because it has good benefits for women and children.
Particularly, she thought it was unfair that men would have to buy a benefit package that will include services they’ll “never” use:
- Maternity: Women get pregnant and men don’t, so only women should have to pay for plans with maternity in them… because men do not father children and therefore should not have any financial responsibility for the perpetuation of the species?
(At this point, using Hasselbeck’s own theory – given that she has had three kids and I don’t have any – I think she owes me some money for all of those pediatric visits and births.)
- Contraception: Right. I’ve got this. Men do not have sex with women for any reason other than getting pregnant. That can’t be right either. And the fact that science has as of yet only created prescription reversible contraception that women can use and not men is a reason for women to bear all of the cost of birth control?
Hasselbeck’s piece showed a complete misunderstanding of both the history of discrimination in health insurance, the public health needs of women and children and how risk pools work. For example, insurance plans have historically not covered maternity services (a National Women’s Law Center study found that 88 percent of plans in the individual market did not cover these critical health services). Obamacare includes the maternity requirement to address this huge gap in insurance coverage. Many plans also haven’t included coverage for pediatric dental care – leading to the very high profile case in Maryland of a little boy who died due to an abscessed tooth. And, the way that insurance risk pools work, we all buy plans with many benefits we will never and can never use – for example, I had my appendix removed years ago, but any insurance plan I buy will cover me for an appendectomy. Nor will I ever need erectile dysfunction medication, but my insurance plan covers it.
Finally, the health care system – like the rest of life – is not a zero-sum game. Just because something improves things for women does not mean it makes things worse for men. Just the opposite in this case. In the long run, improving health insurance coverage for women and children will ultimately save the system millions of dollars and that is good for everybody.